Jazz that’s made for the masses

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Jazz that’s made for the masses

Type “jazz” into an Internet search engine and any number of links will pop up describing jazz as music for a specific season, such as “jazz for the summer.”
But to restrict jazz to a season is somewhat of an injustice to the genre, which is very adaptable. These days, many jazz musicians are fusing their work with pop music. No longer the domain of aficionados, jazz has never been more accessible to the mainstream.
Pop and jazz fusion is the new sensation. One band pioneering the sound is a 12-member outfit called Common Ground. With their first album, “Players,” released in May, the band is at the forefront of what they have coined “Acid Soul,” which mixes punk, soul and acid jazz. The brass section includes a trumpet, saxophone, trombone and bass. They also use keyboards, drums and various percussion instruments to create a sound that shines during concerts.
The band will perform at a preliminary session of the First Jara Island International Jazz Festival tomorrow at the Gapyeong Culture & Art Center in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi province. One glance at the lineup and it’s obvious the event is far from being limited to pure jazz bands only. It includes another fusion jazz band called Wave, as well as Cha Eun-ju, a female jazz and pop singer. The actual festival will be held Sept. 11 and 12.
Another jazz singer at the session will be Nam Ye-ji, 23, a newcomer to the scene who employs strong jazz melodies. Ms. Nam became well-known with her song “The Times Forgotten,” which was on last year’s album “Nouveau Song.” On her first album, “Am I Blue?,” Ms. Nam enlisted the help of popular Korean jazz musicians such as pianist Hahn Choong-wan, guitarist Sam Lee, bassist Jeon Seong-sik and saxophonist Son Seong-jae.
Known for her husky, deep voice, Ms. Nam says she has yet to be called a jazz vocalist. Her current record company has been approached by labels in Japan about distributing her albums there.
For those who can’t make the session, foreign jazz albums are plentiful on Korean record store shelves. Fourplay, which played here to a sold-out crowd two years ago, has released a new album, “Journey.” Canadian crooner Diana Krall’s sixth album, “The Girl in the Other Room,” was recently released, as was Jamie Cullum’s debut, “Twenty Something.”
Fried Pride, a Japanese fusion jazz duo, will hold a concert on July 18 at Hoam Art Hall to mark the release of their first album in Korea.


by Lee Kyong-hee
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